Once the logistics have been squared away, the next challenge is deciding what you are going to teach. Ask yourself the following questions about any class project you are considering:
• Did you learn this technique in another class?
• Is (or was) this project designed by another artist?
• Is this class project from a tutorial in a book or magazine?
If you answered yes to any of those questions you must get permission from the originating artist. Don't be surprised if they say no! "Teaching artists" (which is what you are aspiring to be) work hard to come up with unique projects and new techniques to create a niche market and demand for their classes. While a technique cannot be copyrighted, the design is the property of the artist. Why copy a project from a class or magazine? Not only is it a dishonest way to start your teaching career (unless you have the artist's/designer's express permission in writing), which will destroy your credibility, it is stealing. Shine as an artist and design your own original project!
Here's what some of the teaching artists with whom I discussed this issue had to say about it:
"I stress that I am teaching them my technique and would appreciate them not teaching it because it is a form of income for me."
"I tell my students that all of my designs are copyrighted as I make them. Make them for yourself or gifts but NOT for sale. I let them know if they want to say 'inspired by...' that is cool."
"If I have put a lot of work and effort into creating a technique and state in my notes that it should not be taught without my permission, it is very frustrating to find that someone has ignored this and is profiting from my hard work."
"Once you have decided what you are going to teach, make sure you have practiced and perfected it really well. You need to know your project inside out so you are ready for any problems your students might encounter with it."
If you have developed an original technique (or an original twist on an existing technique), you may choose to teach the technique rather than a particular project. However, most students prefer to come away with a finished (or mostly finished) project at the end of a class or workshop, so it's a good idea to let them create something during the class that they can wear or use afterward. You can either have them practice the technique on a simple class project or allow them to pick their own class project from a few basic options (e.g., a pendant or pair of earrings), with the understanding that you will need to allow more time and individual attention if you allow students to design totally original projects.